elegiac

adjective
ele·​gi·​ac | \ ˌe-lə-ˈjī-ək How to pronounce elegiac (audio) , -ˌak also i-ˈlē-jē-ˌak \
variants: or less commonly elegiacal \ ˌe-​lə-​ˈjī-​ə-​kəl How to pronounce elegiac (audio) \

Definition of elegiac

1a : of, relating to, or consisting of two dactylic hexameter lines the second of which lacks the arsis in the third and sixth feet
b(1) : written in or consisting of elegiac couplets
(2) : noted for having written poetry in such couplets
c : of or relating to the period in Greece about the seventh century b.c. when poetry written in such couplets flourished
2 : of, relating to, or comprising elegy or an elegy especially : expressing sorrow often for something now past an elegiac lament for departed youth

Other Words from elegiac

elegiac noun
elegiacally \ ˌe-​lə-​ˈjī-​ə-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce elegiac (audio) \ adverb

Did you know?

Elegiac was borrowed into English in the 16th century from Late Latin elagiacus, which in turn derives from Greek elegeiakos. Elegeiakos traces back to the Greek word for "elegiac couplet," which was elegeion. It is no surprise, then, that the earliest meaning of elegiac referred to such poetic couplets. These days, of course, the word is also used to describe anything sorrowful or nostalgic. As you may have guessed, another descendant of elegeion in English is elegy, which in its oldest sense refers to a poem in elegiac couplets, and now can equally refer to a somewhat broader range of laments for something or someone that is now lost.

Examples of elegiac in a Sentence

the sight of an old ruined church or castle can be a pleasantly elegiac experience
Recent Examples on the Web Hoffs and Martin intertwined their voices, stripping the sweet lament to a gorgeously elegiac place. Alex Suskind, EW.com, 22 Apr. 2020 The scale of Alan Yang’s heartfelt debut feature is human, its tone elegiac. Joe Morgenstern, WSJ, 10 Apr. 2020 These elegiac images, and the accompanying stories and videos, show us what silence looks like. Washington Post, 24 Mar. 2020 Vitalina Varela’ is socially conscious, but dreamlike, elegiac. Mark Olsenstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 27 Mar. 2020 The language is more elegiac, almost mystical, though as precise as ever. Judith Shulevitz, The Atlantic, 5 Apr. 2020 Sciolino reaches the right elegiac note in her afterword. Debra Bruno, Washington Post, 6 Dec. 2019 Now, four years later, Joe Biden's bid for the White House has taken on almost an elegiac air. Susan Page, USA TODAY, 12 Feb. 2020 Norman F–king Rockwell was beautiful, elegiac and witty, the culmination of Del Rey’s many years exploring her sad-Americana style. Raisa Bruner, Time, 22 Jan. 2020 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'elegiac.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of elegiac

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for elegiac

Late Latin elegiacus, from Greek elegeiakos, from elegeion

Learn More About elegiac

Time Traveler for elegiac

Time Traveler

The first known use of elegiac was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Listen to Our Podcast About elegiac

Dictionary Entries Near elegiac

elegant trogon

elegiac

elegiac pentameter

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for elegiac

Cite this Entry

“Elegiac.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/elegiac. Accessed 16 Aug. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on elegiac

Nglish: Translation of elegiac for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of elegiac for Arabic Speakers

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Words You Should Know

  • hedgehog reading a book
  • Often used to describe “the march of time,” what does inexorable mean?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!